FASHION & PASSION
SUNY Korea FIT
Professor Cynthia Underwood teaches apparel construction to Fashion Design students at SUNY Korea FIT. Find out more about the world of fashion design and education philosophy from this educator whose dream since childhood has been to make her own clothes.
Q. How did you get into fashion, and how do you define fashion design?
At the age of 14, I went to a vocational school in Pennsylvania because I wanted to make my own clothes. That was how I came into the world of fashion. After my training, I worked at a clothing factory where I learned that fashion design was crucial to making quality clothing.
Fashion design reflects and tells you who you are. That is why fashion design has long been affected by society and culture, manifesting itself in diverse ways across time and space.
Q. Can you tell us how you came to know about FIT and what your philosophy is when it comes to talent education?
In 1975, I heard that FIT had a three-year design program, and I went on a campus tour in New York. I loved the school and the program, and joined it the following year. It was in 1984 that I started working in the industry and started teaching part-time at FIT. Come to think of it, my connection to FIT goes way back.
For my classes, I bring in a wide range of materials and examples. Recently, I used historical publications and textiles for different silhouettes and style presentations. Different cutting and sewing patterns are a great example for students who are learning to create and form their own designs.
Q. FIT runs the Museum of Modern Costume. Can you tell us more about this museum?
I love to show my students things that are international and historical, because fashion is connected to constant changes and cycles. If you want to see what is in style now or seek out new styles, history holds the answers. You will see that countless silhouettes and details repeat themselves over and over again. That is why I believe that the Museum of Modern Costume is an important source of inspiration to FIT students.
Q. What is your plan to foster talents and advance the fashion industry?
I plan to do what I have always done: to passionately prepare, update, and commit myself to teaching my students.
Q. What programs are offered by FIT to foster global talents?
In Korea, FIT offers AAS (Associate of Applied Science) degrees in Fashion Design and Fashion Business Management, which are also the core programs at FIT NYC. The two programs superbly reflect the founding philosophy of FIT, which aims to foster graduates who can start immediately in fashion and relevant industries. Fashion Design was one of the first programs offered by FIT, while Fashion Business Management is the oldest and largest of the similar university programs offered in the U.S., focusing on comprehensive fashion management.
FIT is a school within the framework of the State University of New York. At FIT, we offer the 2+2 program. Once students complete a two-year AAS degree at SUNY Korea FIT, they can apply for the baccalaureate degree (two-year) at FIT NYC.
Students in Fashion Design’s womenswear or knitwear concentration (BFA) courses at FIT may take classes in their junior or senior years, or both, in Milan.
All classes are taught in English, and students receive FIT credits in all subjects they complete at FIT Italy. This is a great opportunity to study the latest trends in Milan and interact with other cultures at the same time. Juniors and seniors have access to different majors —daily wear, sportswear, knitwear, special occasion, and homewear. They are assisted by professors with rich experience in refining their insights and skills in the design and making of leather, high-end silk, and textiles using the latest technology. In addition, students can take advantage of new technology and advanced sewing machines.